Firms dragging feet on producing paracetamol

The government has issued licences to over 70 pharmaceutical companies to manufacture paracetamol tablets.

However, only a few of them are producing the drug, adding to the shortage woes.

In a bid to entice them into producing the drug, the drug regulatory authority has dangled promises of ‘immediate registration’ of their product if they manufacture and roll out the much-needed tablets in the market within a limited period of time.

The development comes against the backdrop of a worsening shortage of the Panadol tablet, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is the brand name of the paracetamol drug.

The drug has been in high demand, particularly in the wake of the flooding and rising cases of dengue fever and other water-borne diseases. It’s an antipyretic drug that’s frequently used for fever and pain.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has urged local pharmaceutical companies to produce paracetamol tablets, promising 'immediate registration' of their product with the authority after the completion of the task.

The drug regulator has appealed to the companies to arrange a stock of around 15,000 packets of the drug within a set period of time, the sources said, adding that the firms will be thoroughly facilitated through the process.

The companies will be entrusted with the task to roll out over three million tablets in the market. Upon success, the company can ‘win’ immediate registration of its product with the authority.

The details of the Drap's offer were discussed during a meeting presided over by Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel that deliberated on the paracetamol shortage on Friday.  A number of manufacturers, suppliers, and officials were in attendance.

The Drap sources said that the meeting was told more than 40 companies were likely to take advantage of the offer, adding that response from the paracetamol companies was likely within a week.

It is pertinent to note that a day earlier it had been reported that the pharmaceutical industry agreed to partially resume the production of the drug after the manufacturers of the local active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) decided to reduce the cost of raw materials by 10 per cent.

Earlier, the Sindh Health Department raided a warehouse in Karachi’s Hawkesbay area and confiscated 48 million “hoarded” Panadol tablets, according to officials.

In a tweet, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab also confirmed that Panadol tablets were being hoarded at a time when the medicine was important for treating patients.

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